A matter of trust
28 March 2013
With personal safety or business output at stake somewhere in the UK virtually every day of the year due to weather, ensuring trust in Met Office services is a priority right across the organisation.
Trust is the bedrock of every long-term relationship. As Dee Cotgrove, Met Office Executive Head of Communications says, "For us at the Met Office it is vital that people trust, listen, and act on our warnings and advice."
Taking a poll
One way we measure trust among the public is by sampling views with a quarterly YouGov poll which recently generated its fifth set of tracking data. Alongside questions relating to the way people access weather information, the poll measures trust levels in Met Office services in general.
YouGov figures for the Met Office make impressive reading. In fact, they show around 80% of respondents say they trust the organisation, ranging from 'a little' to 'a lot'.
"We asked those who trust us a lot about the reasons for their level of trust. Accuracy is top of an unprompted list for many people."
So what is keeping the trust index so consistently high?
Dee explains, "We asked those who trust us a lot about the reasons for their level of trust. Accuracy is top of an unprompted list for many people. This can be seen as a consequence of our increasingly accessible forecasts and the benefits of investing in technology so we can perform more calculations, more precisely."
Dee continues, "90% of our next day maximum temperature forecasts are right to within 2 °C and our iPhone app is regularly in the top free weather apps list, with more than 2.9 million downloads since 2010. This combination of accuracy and ease of access contributes to our high trust scores."
Engaging the nation
Accuracy is just part of the picture as trust is also driven by strong public perception of the Met Office's professionalism and expertise. Dee says, "The public know that ultimately it is our people - their forecasting, science and technological expertise - which make Met Office forecasts the trusted source of advice."
As Dee describes:
"The Met Office's number one priority is to provide trusted advice and we work with other trusted agencies from the Environment Agency in England and Wales to Traffic Scotland further north, to provide valuable and impartial information when it matters most."
As well as forecasts via our BBC and ITV partners, the public access Met Office forecasts via our website - over 4.5 million website visits on a peak day.
Social media is another powerful way of reaching out and engaging with the public. Dee says, "As a nation we love talking about the weather. With 100, 000 followers on social media, our Weather Desk is busy answering queries 24/7. Combined with engaging content on YouTube, this puts the Met Office in the Top 10 most 'social' brands in the UK."
Time to listen
Capturing and responding to customer feedback on Met Office services are also essential for any commercially-minded organisation aiming to be recognised as the best weather and climate service in the world.
We achieve this through a team of account managers who have day to day contact with customers, as well as in-house public feedback response team and independent surveys.
The information this generates enables us to drive immediate improvements, as well as longer term action plans for delivery throughout the year. We are determined to work to maintain the high levels of trust placed in us by public and private partners.
As Dee puts it, "In the end, trust is not only about doing what you say you'll do and doing it well. It's also about being a good listener and responding to what you hear."